Tag Archives: evolutionary creationism

Some interesting things elsewhere V


Not much happening here, but at least I have a new SITE- list for my readers:

The ten dogmas of modern science.

The difference between theistic evolutionism and evolutionary creationism on Jesus Creed. I never liked the first term,  and even if I do tend tend to an old earth and biological evolution (as an explanation for what we can find in the material world, which is NOT AT ALL the whole story of the origins of the universe and humanity), I’d never make an ism out of any creatonal view. But I agree that for a Christian affirming the Creator is more important than affirming any scientific theory.

(The problem between ‘creation’ and ‘evolution’ is not a scientfic one, but a metaphysical and philosophic one anyway, and I do like the way in which ‘evolutionary creation’ crosses those false dichotomies..)

Morgan Guyton being provocative again and criticising Tim Keller for creating a false binary of love and holiness. It also shows where I think Guytons Wesleyanism is more in line with both the bible and the great tradition of Christianity than the reformed tradition, but I think some people will not at all agree with that…

David Flowers has a list of five books that, according to him will be very important for the future of North-American Evangelical church in the 21st century . I mioght not be an American but those are important books to wrestle with indeed:

1. N.T. Wright: Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church 
2. Scot McKnight: The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 
3. Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet: Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ
4. Greg Boyd: The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church
5. Christian Smith: The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture 

(I read all of those ecxept #4, which might be the book in the list that is most fit for the Americansituation specificall, but I read other things by Boyd and I quite like him)

Rachel Held Evans has a very interesting guest in her ‘ask a…’ series: Ask an Indigenous Theologian.

Justin Lee cfor the gay Christian Network has a very strong point here: Worldliness in the other direction is still worldliness!

Totally unrelated is the news that ebay doesn’t sell magic anymore. I’m not even going to comment on that one…

Richard Beck of experimental theology on the ‘hole rule‘, a good consideration for those who are into simple living…

And then there’s Todd Bentley, still on the other side of the Atlantic ocean

Shalom

Bram

fallible language V: speaking about creation


We’re still in a series that I’ve begun last winter, about fallibility of language (find part I, part II, part III and part IV here) in which we were looking at the way in which language fails us sometimes.

We’ve been talking about God and theology, but today we’re going to go to a more specific discussion, that is very important for certain people in my own broad tribe of evangelicalism: speaking about Creation.

I’ve always found the 2 most vocal major streams of thought within contemporary Christianity equally irritating; at one hand you have the very militant creationists, who claim to know scientifically exactly how God has made the world in a lot more details than the bible can provide. And if you don’t follow them you don’t believe in the bible and you’ll lose your faith. On the other side you have those who have an equally big faith in science and who know that science has the last word in everything, and if there’s anything in Christianity or the bible that goes against the findings of modern science we should get rid of it…

To be honest, I find both positions to be equally impotent and signs of a quite uncritical synchretism with the arrogant optimism of the enlightenment that we human beings can and will know everything. My thoughts on how Creation has happened may have shifted over the years, but one of the things I’ve always known is that the circumstances of how God made the world are not likely to be found out completely by our science, the visible does not stem from what we can see, and neither that any description of it will ever be complete and able to scientifically nail down what happened.

Vinoth Ramachandra, writing from an Evangelical but non-Western Point of View, puts it this way in his excellent but quite heavy book ‘subverting global myths’:

Creationism and evolutions are simply mirror images of each other. The former reduces the Christian doctrine of creation to the level of a scientific account of chronological origins, and the latter elevated the biological theory of revolution into a total worldview. Paradoxically,creationist and evolutionists have more in common than they each realize: Both work within a “universe-as-machine” picture of the world, so that Gods relationship with the world can only be conceived in the form of ingeneer-type interventions which have to be scientifically inexplicable.

But the whole “universe as a machine” framework is just a modern way we think we make sense of the world… And Creation is something that happened outside of the things that we know and have words for, and something that was not witnessed by us. So I’d expect science to be able to find out something, but not at all even the main thing. Only of you’re a purely materialist Christian you could believe such a thing… (We’ve actually had discussions about evolution and spiritual beings here on this blog a while ago) But neither would I believe that an God-inspired description would be ever complete, it would just be an assurance that indeed God is the Creator. (the question about the origin of angels and demons is still there btw, genesis doesn’t say a word about this!)

With all of this in mind, I found the Orthodox way of looking at the subject of Creation much more interesting. Let’s go back to ‘light from the Christian East’:

For one thing, the Orthodox emphasis on our human inability to conceive of and speak about God and creation together could help us escape the sometimes acrimonious “creation versus evolution” arguments that so often have bedeviled reflection on the creation among Western Christians over the last century or so. From the perspectives of Orthodoxy, the first chapters of Genesis do not explain creation. Creation was God’s act, and no amount of human intellectual ingenuity could ever account for it, nor any human words capture it. The terse affirmations made in Genesis 1-2 do not amount to explanations or even descriptions, from an Orthodox perspective; they confront us with the declaration that all that is came from God. In presenting the entire universe as God’s creative handiwork, Orthodoxy excludes all thought of an evolutionary process operating outside of God, to be sure. Equally, it precludes any arrogant claim to comprehend from the first chapters of Genesis how God brought everything into existence. What Scripture presents is the declaration that God made all that is, without any attempt to clarify how all came into being. The opening chapters of Genesis present what must be wondered at, not what can be fathomed. They offer stimulation for common praise by all those who believe in him, not material with which we should brow-beat fellow believers whose ideas about the way in which God may have accomplished that work differ from ours.
Further, even if God had explained it to us, could we have understood it? What language could God borrow to explain to mere creatures the act of creation so that we could comprehend it? If his ways and thoughts are beyond ours (Is 55:8-9), should we not offer humble praise for his creation and what hè has told us about it, rather than fighting among ourselves as to who best comprehends how God brought all things into existence? Is the beginning of Scripture intended to satisfy our intellectual curiosity about “how,” or is it to invite us to celebrate “what” and “who”? Western Christians could learn a bit more humility in speaking about creation and God from their brothers and sisters in Eastern Orthodoxy. (Payton)

Now that’s a bit like what I think about the subject, but much more eloquently worded…

what do you think?

Shalom

Bram

see also this post and the discussion under it, on evolutionary creationism and angels…

Reclaiming supernaturalism: on evolutionary creationism and angels..


So I’m looking for people to help me with these questions. It might not be the most important part of theology to re-imagine in this postmodern paradigm shift, but still I’m struggling with these questions without seeing anyone who seems wantig or able to answer them…

There’s been a lot of talk on the fringes of (post-)evangelicalism about evolution lately, and in lots of other streams of Christianity the whole evolution debate isn’t even a question, evolution is combined with christianity without questions. Now I am on neither side of the debate between creationism/evolution, my position could be called something like post-modern origin agnostic creationist.  Agnostic in the sense of ‘we cannot know’ I do believe that the visible does not come from what we can see, and that Creation is something bigger than we can ever grasp, and even if we could, we don’t ahev the words and concepts in our languages to even explain what happened there; so I would not be surpised if the creation stories are just a symbolic way of telling the unspeakable, or godly baby-talk (accomodation in theological lingo)…

But I do believe that our science has the ability to say more or less meaningful things about the physical part of our universe. It has nothing to say about the invisible, and the spiritual, and whatever there is we don’t even know of, but it is in observing and describing the material world… So if we can trust science more or less about the history of this physical part of the universe, we have a history longer than 10.000 years, and there might be some kind of common descent of biological life forms. But for the sake of this quest we will go with evolutionary creationism, in which the Creator  created an ever-evolving world (the implication of free-will theology when you take it beyond humanity?) in which humans have developed from this ever-evolving life; and have been taken to a ‘higher plan’ as ‘imago dei’.

Now we go to a totally different aspect of my faith. I do believe that Christianity implies supernaturalism. I come from charismatic forms of Christianity (pentecostel as a kid, vineyard later until this very moment), and even for all the critique I have for some things in charismatic christianity I will never be able to deny the supernatural. I do believe that signs and wonders are one aspect of the Kingdom of God (one that is not mentioned that much in most of the emerging discussion about the Kingom… though the conversations about the future of the theology of the Spirit on Deep church for example are hopeful) But that’s a topic for another discussion.

There’s another aspect of supernaturalism that I can’t deny, even at moments when I doubte every explanation and theology about it that I’ve ever know. Let’s call it angels and demons, for that’s what it’s mostly called. I cannot deny them, nor can I deny exorcism, I have had some weird experiences in my life (about which I will not blog, but be free to discuss about them with via email) and I’ve heard witness reports from people I trust (and aven more from people I’m not sure of or don’t know…) There must be something like it… Nothing on earth will ever convince me of the opposite…

So here do we have a problem… What do we do with those spiritual entities in a worldview in which at least the material part of the universe is evolving?
* Are they unlike us created and do we follow the evangelical stories about angels who were created as robotlike serving spirits, of whom 1/3th rebelled and created demons?
* Do we find a way to theorise about the evolution of Spiritual entities? Are they ‘emerging properties’ of the spiritual side of the evolving world in one way? Are demons viruslike parts of damaged spirits that found ways to live on and in some way reproduce? Or are archangels beings that were create dto oversee the processes of an ever-evolving nature (of which one rebelled?)
* Do we just admit that it’s a mystery of which we will not be able to say anthing meaningful? We miss the words and concepts to explain what they are, so we remain silent? I bet we as humans won’t even be able to do such a thing…

So I want to ask if there is anyone like me, who falls broadly in the category of evolutionary creationists who believe in spiritual entities, what do you think??? (I don’t mind people saying they do believe in old-earth creationism or materialism without spiritual beings, but please do not hi-jack this discussion and be respectful…) How do we reconcile the evolution idea which tend to lead to materialism with spirit beings?

in hope of an interesting conversation…

shalom

Bram

pro-life


I am a Christian. I try to follow Jesus, and sometimes I feel like a great failure in that. But sometimes I also see things that are called christian that are far far far away from anything I see in the words of Jesus, the bible or the tradition of Christianity. Like the (mainly american) use of the term ‘pro-life’. I am not American, so there is a cultural gap, this I am aware of and I understand.  But if the term ‘pro-life’ means just anti-abortion, and mostly in combination with pro-war, pro death penalty, pro-guns and anti-environment, you loose me. And everything I know about Jesus… Ifail to see what’s so ‘pro-life’ about it then…

Oh yes, I am pro-life, and I want to be more and more pro-life. In a more consequent and holistic manner I guess. Yes unborn people are people too, I believe that unborn children have the right to live. That’s something christians of all denominations and times stood for. The first christian writing we have, the didache’, already writes against it.

But whether it’s the state’s job to make it illegal I don’t even know, and I think if we really would be serious about abortion as christian we’d have communities who were ready to adopt both mothers and children. And we should live out the conviction that every human being is of unmeasurable value. But to just vote for the candidate who is supposed to be against abortion (though none of these ever made abortion illegal or changed much about the situation in america) and to make that the definition of ‘pro-life’ is bad rhetoric as best.

Life doesn’t exactly stop at birth you know. No, au contraire, birth is the beginning of human life as a seperate being. So I’m all for the life of unborn peaple, and of children, adults and elderly people. And I think we as Christians should oppose things that are anti the life of any human being. All life should be protected .

That means we shouldn’t kill people, and we shouldn’t support the killing of people. War is not something that brings much good most of the time. The first Christians were ready to die themselves for their faith (or for their loved ones) but never to kill. We shouldn’t use weapons meant to kill fellow humans. I know the pacifism debate isn’t easy, and that not everybody can accept the position of people like John Howard Yoder who hold to complete pacifism. But every follower of Jesus should accept that violence is alays an evil, even if it’d be the lesser of 2 evils… And that we are called to love our neighbors and enemies. I think that means not killing our fellow humans. (like one of the 10 commandments already commanded…) Same with death penalty. Especially with all those stories of innocents being executed.

A side note: the oppression of women, blacks or native americans (the real americans, whose continent is violently stolen by us white people) is totally against Jesus too, and we should oppose that with everything we are.

And there’s more life on this planet than homo sapiens alone. As a christian who believes in God the Creator of heaven and earth, we should take care of creation. We should not be cruel to animals. We should not destroy ecosystems just to make money.

Wat I just cannot understand is creationistic anti-environmentalism. If you believe that God is creator, then we should take care of creation. Destroying the creation in name of the ammighty dollar is a big middle-finger to the Creator then… Every species we loose is a loss, wheter one believes in special creation or evolutionary creation. It’s bad stewardship. We should care for creation if we take the Creator seriously.

The only purpose of the State that can be justified from a Christian viewpoint is to make it possible for all the people in the country to live as good and peaceful as possibble. There are no acceptable higher goals. The economy should be for the people, and the people should not be consumers to keep the economy machine growing. The lie of the need of growth should be abandoned for the economy of enough. There is no higher goal in power. the goal should be all the people living together in the counrty, even the ones we don’t like. And taking care of the country, the nature and the animals. None of the possible higher goals in politics I can accept as a christian.

shalom

Bram

postmodern origins-agnostic Creationism


Sometimes I am amazed how muc energy christians can put in ‘proving that the bible is right’, and ‘fighting the godless darwinism’ and other stuff. I’ve met people who saw the whole challenge of being a christian being summed up in the defense of ‘creation’ against ‘evolutionism’. so there was no time at all for the other 65 and a half books of the bible, or to try to follow Jesus and to try to love God above all, and our fellow humans as ourselves… such obsessions can be very unhealthy for christianity… But even by the unobsessed I’ve seen ideas circulating in evangelical circles about black or white, God or evolution, as if there are just 2 options….

I don’t buy the whole evolution-science dichotomy (and I always get tired of false dichotomies, must be my postmodern side…) The least we could say is that there is a continuum like the one on this chart:

continuum of evolution and creation

(it is stolen from steve martin, read the article here he has better alternatives than this chart)

But then still, I’m not really  on the chart.  My position on Creation may be called something like postmodern origins-agnostic Creationism or something like that.  Creationist, for surely I believe in the CReator who created all of this creation (and much more), and agnostic in the sense that we simply can not know how exactly the world was put into existence, so all our human storys fall short and will allways fall short to accurately descibe the how of creation…

The main thing is that I can’t believe that science (or even human languages and concepts) will ever be able to explain how the world was created, those things are bigger than all we can know and grasp and find traces off… Science is based op the parameters of the world now and language is based on concepts we can understand with what we can see and know in our 3D + one time dimension world… If Creation is bigger than anything our brains can understand, it is just a matter of logic the only thing we could have is an accomodation, like the creation poem in genesis. So in the end everything is an accomodation, the evolution model, the big bang, or any creation story is a way to say something that can not be said accurately.

The problems I have with Young earth Creationism (which I’ve believed in the first 20 years of my life or so) is firstly that I’ve encountered a lot of intelectual dishonesty and plain BS (look at our dear Dr dino…) and the idea that we have to prove (our modernist interpretation of) the bible to defend our faith is dangerous…

So to conclude: Creation is bigger than any story we can make out of it to explain it as humans… If science proves that the world is old and that there is some kind of evolution who am I to not believe that, but even then it will never be the whole story… The story is bigger and encompasses more than the material traces that it may or may not have left, so digging in the ground will never make us able to have all the details… I think in the original diagram with the continuum, I would be somewhere away from the diagonal black line but close to the red line. I’m closer than ever to being an ‘evolutionary creationsist’ right now; and I’m much more happy with that term than I ever was with the term theistic evolutionist, believing in Creation and the Creator comes before any idea how it might have happened..

But still it is all just fallible human theorie, like flatlanders in a 2D world discussing about the form my guitar…

All praises to the Creator of all things visible and invisible!!!

shalom

Bram

to read some more:

http://evanevodialogue.blogspot.com

http://biologos.org/

Scot McKnight and his regular guest blogger RJS  also have some interesting discussions about the subject, use the search function on http://www.beliefnet.com/Blogs/jesuscreed